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Priority right for recreational species

13 July 2001

Priority right for recreational species

Kingfish and kahawai, whose value is recreational rather than commercial, should be reserved for sustenance and recreational fishers, the Green Party said today.

Speaking at the annual conference of the NZ Recreational Fishing Council in Whakatane Greens Co-leader and Fisheries spokesperson Jeanette Fitzsimons said that for some fisheries the value to NZ from recreational fishing was higher than from commercial and this should be recognised in fisheries regulation.

"We should manage our fisheries for the greatest good of all New Zealanders" she said. "The top priority must always be sustaining the fishery and the marine environment for its intrinsic values and so that future generations will be able to catch a fish for tea."

"When it comes to sharing out the right to catch fish, commercial activity must never be allowed to take away the birthright of all New Zealanders to fish for the table and for fun, within the limits of responsible marine management."

"That means primarily recreational species should be reserved for customary, sustenance and recreational fishing. Permits for commercial catch of these species should be reduced to cover only unavoidable by-catch when targeting other species, even though this will mean some limited compensation to current permit holders. As these species are not within the quota system which establishes property rights, compensation should not be large."

"But there are also many people who cannot fish and who depend on a prosperous local fishing industry if they are to eat fish. So for a fishery like snapper, commercial and recreational must continue to share the fishery and share in the management of the fishery."

Ms Fitzsimons told the conference that the Green Party had argued in the budget process for funding for iwi, recreational and conservation groups to participate in fisheries decision making processes which are required under the Act. Government was not willing to fund this participation at this stage, but because recreational fishers had been funded to participate in the "Soundings" process on establishing a recreational fishing right last year, an equivalent amount was made available to conservation groups to participate in this year's one-off process, the development of an environmental strategy for fisheries.

ENDS

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